The younger brother of a former band member, Birat Basnet has been playing music for over 10 years. This talented musician who also prefers home-cooked meals over outside food switches from punk to folk every time he steps up to a Night performance.
When and why did you start playing music?
My father is a policeman and when I was a child I wanted to be one too. But my older brother Bibhusan was really into music and used to practice with his band all the time. Looking at him I also got very interested in music and followed him into this field.
I started learning the drums and guitar and participated in a few school programs at first. Initially I learned how to play by myself but I was also tutored by Sarthak dai and Kiran for over two years.
Bibhushan Basnet is a former band member of Night and also the director of the Kathor music video.
What do you like best about being a professional musician as opposed to having an office job?
More than anything I enjoy the freedom that comes with being a musician – I am free to think on my own and live by my own rules. I also have the time to think about my music which soothes my mind and makes me happy.
I think that I’m also lucky that my family supports me in this; it also helps that my brother is a musician.
How did you join Night?
It was just after SLC in 2008 that my brother asked me if I wanted to play with Night so I said okay. At first I listened to the band’s music and tried to get used to it. I also took the time to practice with Jason (Kunwar) so that I could get used to Night’s style of playing. Soon after I was part of the band and here I am now!
My first concert with Night was also in the same year and although I made a few mistakes, it was a really good experience.
What is the best part about being part of Night?
Previously I only listened to Western music but with Night I have learned to appreciate Nepali music and traditional Nepali instruments as well. I feel that we as a band are also helping others discover the same with our own music.
I also appreciate being able to adapt to a different music style and learning how to play new instruments. Currently I can play five instruments: the dhimay, the nagara, the guitar, drums and the murchunga. I also do the backup vocals for some songs.
What are some of the struggles you have faced as a musician?
Honestly I think it is hard to reach the level of foreign musicians. While I do tell myself to be patient and keep working hard, it can be a bit hard to motivate myself to practice at times. I guess for me it is still a challenge but I am trying every day to overcome it.
Fortunately, as I have said previously, I have the full support of my family and my brother being a musician helps. I like to think that they see me working hard in my music and they understand that it is important to me.
I think another challenge for me would be to learn new instruments since I am not as young as before and it is harder to pick up new skills.
How do you balance your music and your other obligations?
I don’t have a day job and I spend most of my time practicing. At the moment I am playing with Night and Social Nerve which is a punk band. I am also practicing with a jazz band which is not complete yet.
I also play with a theatre group from time to time both as a musician and as an actor.
How different is it working in a punk band compared to Night?
Punk needs more energy and stamina and is a different type of music and playing style entirely. At the same time I like being able to express myself differently. My punk background also influences my playing with Night since I can experiment with different drum patterns that others may not know about to give our music a more unique “feel”.
How involved are you in the theatre scene?
I only do small roles as an actor but as a musician I have performed music for plays for a live audience.
My first theatre experience was Khari ko ghero which was a Nepali adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle and was staged by Aarohan Gurukul. Night did the composition for this along with the live performances for every show. The play was so popular that we even got to perform at the National School of Drama, New Delhi and Chennai.
In 2013 Night also composed and performed for the play Taapu with the children of SOS Children’s Village of Nepal, Jorpati.
Recently I performed in a play called Jumping Frog staged at the Mandala Theater.
Do you have any advice for people who want to become musicians?
I personally feel that music should not be taken lightly and if you want to succeed or be good at it then you should take it seriously. It also takes a lot of time and patience to become a good musician so be prepared to spend most of your time practicing… unless you’re a natural genius!
The interview with Sudhir Acharya will be up next week so follow me on Facebook for the latest updates.
Night is a new-school folk band that focuses on using traditional Nepali instruments and creating new sounds for a new audience.
Currently the band members include:
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